Notes on Causality/Non-causality:
All our thinking is shaped into the mold of causality and this not by our own choice but by Nature's.
Nothing can enter experience which is not thrown by the mind into a causal form. The mind being capable only of experiencing in this way is incapable of grasping the essentially real in experience.
All that we know of Nature is our own mental experience of it; and all that we know of causality in Nature is likewise only the way in which that mental experience arranges itself.
The causal habit, like that of time and space, is one of the cardinal habits of thinking and one of the fixed forms of awareness. It is our lack of comprehension of the way in which the mind works, the relation between consciousness, ego, and mind, which makes it inevitable for us to fall victim to these three great illusions of the race.
The bias towards belief in causality is so universally ingrained in mankind that religious teachers had to explain the world in causal terms first. But the Vedantists used such causal explanations as steps to mount up towards non-causality. They taught that the world is a creation and its creator the pure spirit Brahman, and then led the pupil to enquire into the nature of Brahman, gradually showing him that Brahman is one, indivisible and partless. Such a partless being cannot change or produce change, therefore there can be no creation, that is, the truth of non-causality. In this way the pupil was led from religion to philosophy.
Creation as an act is different from creation as a fact. Advaita challenges the reality of the first but admits the second in the sense that it does not deny the existence of the world. But the question "How did God create the world?" does not admit of a simple accurate answer. In the first place it is oversimple and therefore inadequate; secondly it is mis-stated and omits at least two other questions the answers to which are prerequisite to an answer to the question in its present form. The infinite principle of Mind does not will or create the Universe, but within its seeming darkness there arises a point of light which becomes the centre of a potential universe. A first beginning of the Universe has never happened, because the Universe is a manifestation of Mind, the reality which, existing in timeless duration as it does, has never had a beginning itself.
Causality functions in the ordinary world. To doubt that would be to doubt all human experience. But when we enquire into its ultimate abstraction we find causality contradicts itself, it is relative and an appearance. At the same time we see that the causal thought-form must be added to the percepts of space and time to bring experience into ordered relationship during the manifestation of the universe, and lapse when the mind sinks again into consciousness.
Even so supreme a teacher as the Buddha had to confess, "Unknowable is the beginning of beings."
What it is in Mind that impels it to make these myriad appearances as ideas we do not and cannot know. The question itself is based on belief in causation, which is another idea, and is therefore invalid because it is without meaning to Mind.
One valid application of the tenet of non-causality is this--when water is converted into steam we cannot say steam is a new creation, for it is still nothing but water albeit its expression has changed.
The world being but an expression of the Overself is not a new creation, for fundamentally no new thing has come into being. The world is but a changed expression of Overself, and as cause implies effect, that is, duality, and as there is no duality, so there is no causal relation behind the universe. From the empiric standpoint--that is, disregarding fundamentals and looking at secondary elements only--within the universe causality clearly reigns. V.S.I.'s [V. Subramanya Iyer--editor's addition] application of non-causality to the interrelations within the world is illegitimate.
If causality were not a practical working truth we should plant grass seed in the hope of getting grapefruit.
We must get our minds quite clear about this position. It is all a matter of standpoint. From a practical standpoint the world is composed of many entities affecting and inter-reacting with each other in a causal manner. From the ultimate standpoint the world is Mind-essence, and this being the only existence cannot change its nature and come into a second birth; it cannot fall into the duality of cause and effect. But the Mind's finite productions, ideas, can do so.
Therefore it is admitted that causality fully reigns in the realm of ordinary experience. But when we seek to understand Mind in itself we seek to transcend ordinary experience. Mind in itself is not subject to causality.
The question of causality depends, like the question of the universe, on the particular point of view which we take up. It is real when considered as pertaining to two things, just as a dream table and chairs are real when considered by the dreamer himself. It is fictitious when we look not at the multiplicity of things but at the essence wherefrom they are derived, just as the dream table and chairs are fictitious when looked at from the broader point of view of the man who has awakened with the dawn.
Whereas experience presupposes the relation of causality, reality itself stands out of all relations. Causality is a condition of knowing and thus confines us to the familiar world. The category of causality is inapplicable to Brahman.
If there is one rigid law in nature it would seem to be none other than the law of causality, for how can the chain of causation ever be broken?
The reticence of the Buddha in discussing problems concerning the First Cause is made explicable by his knowledge of non-causality.
Sub-atomic science--indeterminacy, Heisenberg's Quantum Theory; Super-atomic science--Einstein's relativity; milliards of galaxies which made the universe.
Sub-atomic physics reveals that the ultramicroscopic electrons and protons are disobedient to the law which science took as the best established of all laws--that of cause and effect. This revealment may even bring the theoretical search for reality into a cul-de-sac. What was once a philosophical tenet may become a scientific one too. What was once the consequence of man's keenest reflection may become the consequence of his ascertainment of facts.
Scholars often use the words cause and effect with less warrant than truth demands. The phrase is profusely sprinkled over lecture and book until we accept their statement as unquestioningly as we accept today's sunrise. But it behooves the few who would root up the reason for all things to look a little closer into this usage. When we do this, those smooth and finished doctrines which have held us captive so long may be compelled to open their doors and set us free. We may discover, as did David Hume, that whether in the behaviour of matter or of mind, much that we accept as causal is nothing of the kind, it is merely consecutive.
Hume said that a thing or self was only a bundle of relations, being nothing in itself.
It is very easy to fall into what may be called the fallacy of the single cause, as when Hitler--conveniently overlooking himself and those like him--asserted that the Jews were the cause of Germany's worst troubles. The truth is that most problems are many sided, and behind the simplest effects there lie usually a combination of causes.
Causality is a misapprehension from the philosophical standpoint, but quite correct from the physical and practical.
In the last reckoning life is really a process whereby the individual becomes conscious of his own true identity. The spiritual nature of man does not exist potentially, but actually. The discovery of his own identity is simply man's destruction of the hypnotic illusions of Ego, Time, Space, Matter, and Cause--his moment of release from untruth.
The Overself is not subject to causality, but the ideas which appear to arise in it are. This is where students become confused.
We must not ascribe activity to the Overself. This does not mean that it is wrapped in everlasting slumber. The possibility of all activity is derived from it. It is the life behind the Cosmic Mind's own life.
-- Notebooks Category 19: The Reign of Relativity > Chapter 4: Time, Space, Causality > # 75
-- Perspectives > Chapter 19: The Reign of Relativity > # 9